Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Whole Noir Thing, Part One

The stories I write tend to be boiled -- whether hard-boiled or soft-boiled depends on the reader I ask. There's violence but it's not gory (for the most part), very little cursing, and just about no sex.

I don't write noir. Here's the difference as far as I can see. In hardboiled fiction, there is violence and sometimes sex, but the main character believes it all means something. That is, living in this world is painful but worth it. In Noir, living in this world is just painful. I believe life is worth living and that there is good in the world. True noir (I think a lot of hardboiled stuff is labeled noir without really being so) doesn't appeal to me. The concept seems fake to me.

From second grade through the fifth, I lived in a part of the Bronx where murder was literally a daily occurence. There was a heroin shooting gallery in the abandoned building across the street from us. Junkies stumbled in and out of the building at all times, often leaving lit candles behind which became minor blazes requiring the NYFD to respond. My father twice had guns put to his head, once to the forehead, once to the nape of his neck. How's this for name dropping -- when I was a child I got to see Paul Newman in the flesh when he came to my neighborhood to film part of a movie called "Fort Apache, The Bronx." The movie is known for portraying the grittiest grit in a gritty city.

When I was twelve, I met a man (we were living in his mother's apartment for a few weeks while my parents looked for one of our own) this man wound up dead just a short while later. Murdered. Not too shocking. Lots of people get murdered. This guy, however, was found little by little -- one piece in a garbage can, one piece under a bridge, one piece in the trunk of an abandoned car, etc. Pretty noir, no?

Yet all these lives have meaning. I didn't say "had" because they continue to have meaning -- even the heroin addicts, even the guy who got chopped up. I think to suggest otherwise is simply to not have known these people.


Blogger Blog World said...

Faith is spiritualized imagination.
Henry Ward Beecher- Posters.

November 22, 2005 2:42 PM  

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